Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude: The Forgotten Key

There is something lovely about autumn. The days are crisper and there is a sense of purpose in the air. I enjoy the fall color and the gently falling leaves. I breathe deeply. I smell change.

As I watch the leaves fall, I ponder change. I wonder about the future. I look inside myself and enjoy the stillness. I step softly into my heart and take inventory. I embrace my gifts and examine my baggage. It is a good time for letting go.

What will I let go of this autumn? Some of my baggage is old and familiar. Shall I be done with it, at last? Is it time to move on? Can I let it go, like softly falling leaves, and allow it to gather at my feet, where I can sweep it up and carry it out?

Can I let go of judgement? Deceit? Bitterness? Self-Pity? Resentment? Anger?

Some thoughts have lodged in my heart for so long, they seem like family.
Who would I be without these guests? Guests are they, or perhaps intruders?

I examine each piece of baggage, each intruder, and wonder why I have kept it close for so long. In the corners of my heart I find hidden containers. Secrets. Do I know them?

Inferiority. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. No one likes me. It’s too late. I never… I always… How long have those bags been hidden in my heart? Who put them there?

Not I. Surely not I. Have I just been storing them, then, til someone claims them? Let them fall. I shake my inner tree and let them go.

I sweep the corners and gather the dust of loneliness, the cobwebs of despair, the skeletons of self-judgement, the bones of isolation.

Autumn feels good. With joy, I release things that no longer serve me. I let them go. I sweep up the leaves of yesterday and carry them out.

So much garbage. Did I get it all? Maybe not, but there is more room in my heart now. Room for shiny new gifts. Room for a jar of love, a box of forgiveness, a sack of friendship. Room for a cup of kindness, a tin of tolerance, and a can of cooperation.

With the baggage gone, I see a door that I didn’t noticed before. It was hidden behind the intruders. The word PEACE is painted on the door in pretty script.

What lies behind that door ? A closet? A hallway? An adventure? The door is locked. I search for a key. There it is hanging from a ribbon on a nail. The key is ornate, the ribbon delicate, and it is labeled gratitude.

Gratitude is the key.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." (Melodie Beattie)

I turn the key and enter. It’s not a hallway or a closet. It’s a beautiful room. Silently, it speaks the word on the door. It whispers peace.

The room is lovely. Fresh flowers grace the table. A fire crackles in the fireplace. The walls are decorated with things I love, meaningful art and pictures of things I am grateful for. I see faces of family and friends. I see happy memories frozen in time. These are precious gifts.

I explore this comfortable room. I sit at the piano and caress the keys lovingly. A tender melody flows from my grateful fingers. The music of my heart fills the stillness with gratitude. The gift of music sweetens my life.

I am drawn to the bookshelf where I notice my favorite books are mingled with some I have never read. I touch each one, feeling gratitude for the power of words. I am delighted that there are always new words to read. My fingers rest lovingly on the scriptures. I am grateful for the words of life.

Light filters in through a single window. I stand at the window and gaze at a charming garden alive with gracious plants. I throw open the window to breathe in the colors of life—the colors of gratitude. I find joy in this garden.

Inside this cozy room I become aware of my gifts, which are many. They bring meaning and enjoyment into my life. They bring me peace. I gather these gifts in my arms and carry them close to me, as I move toward the fire.

There is a mirror above the fireplace. As I look into the mirror, I am surprised to see not one, but two faces reflected there. I see my own face, and also the face of my Savior. I see that His life is woven together with mine. I see that His love and support makes my life meaningful. Gratitude swells within my heart.

A comfortable chair waits for me in front of the fire of love. It is inviting and has embroidery on the back. I trace the stiches with my fingers. At first the words are difficult to read, but as the fire tosses light onto the chair and fills the room with love, the words become clearer.

I can read the words now. Remember Who You Are. What a gift.

It’s a beautiful chair. I think I’ll sit a while.

Linda Garner

Friday, November 18, 2011

What If I Don't Feel Sorry?

Repentence isn't easy. It's even harder if we don't feel sorry for what we did. Sin can dull our senses and rob us of our feelings. Voices for Virtue posted Maria's question about feeling sorry on their facebook pages. Here is her question, along with some of the answers. I found it thought-provoking. Maybe you will too.

Maria asks: "Sometimes, when I've done something wrong, I do not feel sorry or regretful about it. Because of this- it's hard for me to repent. What should i do about this?"


Lisa from Utah
I know how you feel. I am there right now. I know what the answer is, though, I've heard it before from a friend: Pray for the desire to feel the remorse and repent.

Curtis from Texas
Be happy. The purpose of this life is to have joy. God isn't an umpire trying to call strikes and outs. So, although you may not feel guilt you may still have an intellectual knowledge of it as a sin. As you talk to the Lord about it He will gently invite you to change. Then your repentance will be real, sincere and short.

Darin from Utah
Read your scriptures... You'll start feeling godly sorrow and you'll feel the need to repent

…. it takes time and sometimes you fall a few times, but just keep trying. Pray to your Father in Heaven and He will guide you. Remember No matter what happens, you are never to far off the path to come back.. But you are still doing awesome because you have the desire to feel remorse :)

Jessica from Canada
Sometimes the circumstances surrounding a sinful act can seem very reasonable ... we must remember that the adversary will tell 1000 truths to tell one lie, and if all of the surrounding circumstances seem truthful, but the act you committed is not, that is one way that Satan can get a hold of you…

Juliana from Brazil
It helps if you keep in mind that you are a special daughter of our heavenly father, he loves and will take care of you and help you be a better person.

Ruby from Ohio
… listen to the still small voice. If we ignore it, and keep sinning, our conscience will grow smaller and smaller and it will be harder to feel regret for what we have done. When we go to church, or serve others, or do something to feel the Spirit, we will want to have that feeling with us always. We will miss the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Cindra from Michigan
... Your Bishop is the best place to start.

William from North Carolina
Follow these peoples advice dont do like I did and repeat the sin til it swalows your entire life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Addicted to my TO DO List

Priorities have always been a mystery to me. I’m always making “to do” lists, but I can never do all the things on my list.

As a young mother I was constantly reorganizing my “to do” lists according to priorities. My hope was that if I got my priorities in the right order I could somehow make it through my entire “to do” list. It never worked.

Eventually I learned that priorities were a tool to help me weed out the non-essential items on my “to do list” so that I could focus on the truly important things. There is so much I want to do, but there are only twenty four hours in a day, and I have to sleep sometime.

Wives and Mothers often put themselves last, because so many people are depending on them. You wouldn’t expect your car to run without gas, but sometimes this is what we expect of ourselves. If people are depending on us, we need to take special care of ourselves, for their sake as well as ours. When we allow ourselves to get drained, it is hard to serve anyone.

I admit it. I’m just like you. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and sometimes I forget that taking care of me is my first priority. Here is a fun reminder for all of us. I hope it makes you laugh.

Life Is Just So Daily

A model Mom was Mary Lee,
amazing for her friends to see.
She cleaned the house and fed the fishes,
Walked the dog, and did the dishes.

She drove her kids, plus neighbors, to school,
and lectured about the golden rule.
She wiped half a dozen runny noses,
And always took time to smell the roses.

She was a savvy grocery shopper,
and never gave up. No one could stop her.
She was always busy, and on the run.
But she was happy. Life was fun.

She volunteered at the old folks home
and later took time to write a poem
to go with a home made birthday gift.
She hoped it would give her neighbor a lift.

Her to do list was scary; her calendar? Filled.
She didn’t have time to clean up milk, if it spilled.
But she was organized, and life was a blast.
She knew how to work hard, and run fast.

Then one day… the visiting teachers came…

“…and Mary Lee, the Prophets say
We should read our scriptures every day.”

“I can do that,” thought Mary Lee.
“I’ll stay up half an hour later, gladly.”

The scriptures were awesome. They filled her with joy.
She pondered them often while picking up toys.
She read about service. She read about love.
She wanted to store up her treasures above.

She tended the baby for her best friend.
and gathered her ragged clothes to mend.
She cleaned out the fridge and made friendship soup,
while answering emails to stay in the loop.

She changed the baby again and again,
and paid all her bills with her favorite pen.
She made extra dinner for the sick and afflicted.
Mary Lee loved serving others. She was addicted.

While ironing, she listed to the radio, and heard:

“Daily exercise is a must
If the experts we can trust.”

“I can do that,” thought Mary Lee.
“I’ll get up an hour earlier, GLADLY.”

Jogging is easy, thought Mary Lee.
She jogged through the neighborhood daily.
When her alarm buzzed, she jumped up in the dark.
She jogged past the church. She jogged past the park.

Could anything slow down Mary Lee?
She kept on going, like the energizer bunny.
She still did her service and cheered up the sad.
Once a week without fail she called Mom and Dad.

At Relief Society one Sunday she heard:

“You MUSN’T neglect your kindred dead.
Please do your genealogy,”
the teacher said.

“I’ll do it. I’ll do it,” cried Mary Lee.
“I’ll stay up later than ever. GLADLY!”

A miracle woman was Mary Lee,
amazing for her friends to see.
She filled out pedigrees one by one
and family group sheets. “Hey this is fun.”

She diligently worked on her family tree,
and learned New Family Search, and Temple Ready.
She went to the temple for those deceased
and sealed them together, piece by piece.

At PTA meeting, one evening, she heard:

Children need to see their parents read.
“It’s your job”,
said the teacher, “Now please, take the lead.”

“I can do that,” said Mary Lee.
“I’ll get up earlier. I’ll do it GLADLY.”

She went to the library and brought home books.
She stacked up those books in corners and nooks.
She read the classics. She read history.
She even tried (gasp) romance, sci fi, fantasy.

She read lots of picture books to her small ones,
and shared current events with each of her tall ones.
She read the newspaper. Some news made her shudder.
She, of course, read the Ensign, from cover to cover.

And then, the home teachers knocked at her door:

“Prepare for the future,” they said. “Are you ready?”
“How is your food storage? Be sure to have plenty.”

“I must get prepared,” said Mary Lee.
I’ll fill all my shelves, diligently.”

“I’ll can, and I’ll freeze, and I’ll dry, and I’ll store.
I can do it. I can. I can always do more.
but where will I find the time,” said she.
“I can go to bed later,” she sighed. “…gladly?”

So Mary Lee bought fruit by the bushel.
She kept her stove humming. Food storage is crucial.
She planted her garden in the pale moonlight.
She watered and weeded, night after night.

She made sure to cover all of her bases,
and brought home more food, by the cases.
She gazed at her bulging shelves with pride.
I knew I could do it, she tiredly sighed.

One day in a magazine she read:

Develop your talents to give your life zing.
She had always wanted to learn how to sing.

So, she got on the phone that very day
and arranged for a teacher, You know what they say…
Don’t put it off, just do it TODAY.

The lessons were great, but there was a quirk.
When could she practice her new singing work?
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said tired Mary Lee.
“Get up earlier, I guess,” she said miserably.

That night when Mary Lee dressed for bed
and set the alarm, and laid down her head,
just ten tiny minutes and the alarm was heard.
You’d think she’d jump up, but she never stirred.

This part of the story, you may find boring,
for Mary Lee lay there exhausted and snoring.
How long did she sleep? No one knows for sure.
The next several days are simply a blur.

When she finally woke, she stretched and she yawned.
A brand new idea had finally dawned.
“I can’t do it all, though I wish that I could.
I’ve tried, and I’ve tried. I did more than I should.”

I’m only one person. Some things, I can do.
I don’t have to be good at everything. Nor Do You.
I like serving, and doing, and being, you see,
But I forgot one thing, taking care of me.

Linda Garner